EU HRC buyers question sustainability of bullish trend

Some European buyers were seen concerned on Dec. 14 about the hot-rolled coil price recovery, which might not be sustainable after restocking ends, market sources said.

Domestic coil price recovery started at the beginning of December, as distributors returned to the market looking for volumes to restock for the first quarter of next year. In addition, import offers also moved up following the revival in the Asian market.

“Now demand is better than it used to be, but it is far from normal,” a German distributor said. “And I think that this recovery might be short-lived, as distributors will buy material they need to put in stock by the middle of January, and the market will become silent again.”

“Apparent demand is indeed better due to destocking by the year-end and restocking for the first quarter, but real demand is stable at the low level,” an Italian service center said.

As a result, buyers believed that transaction prices for domestic HRC might not reach a target level of Eur680-700/mt ex-works Ruhr, which might decline in early January-February.

Platts assessed HRC in Northwest Europe at Eur655/mt ex-works Ruhr Dec. 14, stable day on day. The assessment excludes carbon surcharges some Northern European steelmakers have in place.

Tradable values and offers were reported around Eur640-660/mt ex-works Ruhr and Eur680-700/mt ex-works Ruhr, respectively.

Platts assessed domestic HRC in the south of Europe also unchanged on the day at Eur645/mt ex-works Italy Dec. 14. The assessment was based on tradable values reported around Eur640-Eur650/mt ex-works Italy and offers heard around Eur680-700/mt delivered Italy.

Suppliers from Asia showed reduced activity in the European market due to concerns regarding potential anti-dumping cases into HRC from Japan, South Korea, and India. Additionally, stronger Euro against the US dollar partially offset the import price rise.

Platts assessed imported HRC in southern Europe at Eur620/mt CIF Italy, unchanged on the day. The assessment was based on offers reported at Eur610-630/mt CIF Italy.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Maria Tanatar